Saturday, May 31, 2014

ARC Review: Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel

Vivian Divine Is Dead
Author: Lauren Sabel
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (June 3, 2014)

Description: With the mystery and suspense of the Pretty Little Liars series, the Hollywood drama of Lauren Conrad's L.A. Candy, and the creepiness of Michelle Hodkin's The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Vivian Divine Is Dead will thrill fans of emotionally charged, fast-paced, contemporary fiction.

Teen celebrity Vivian Divine has had a rough six months—her movie-star mother was murdered, and her boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend. Through it all, she's had to smile for the camera—this is the stuff the tabloids live for, after all.

When a death threat arrives with her fan mail, Vivian decides to run to Mexico, hoping to escape whoever it is who wants her dead. There, she finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick, but even he seems like he can't be trusted.As Vivian travels deeper into Mexico, she finds herself asking a horrifying question: If she can't hide from the paparazzi, what makes her think she can elude a madman?

Filled with surprising twists, poignant moments, and the snark of a Hollywood starlet suddenly on her own, Vivian Divine Is Dead brings a fresh new voice to contemporary fiction.

As New York Times bestselling author of the Beautiful Creatures series Kami Garcia says, Vivian Divine Is Dead is "a heartbreaking and magical story about love, second chances, and finding yourself."

My Thoughts: The past six months for teen star Vivian Divine have been horrible. Her movie star mother was kidnapped and murdered. Her father attempted suicide and then buried himself in his work as a famous director. Her film star boyfriend has thrown her over for her best friend. But, worst of all, she has just received a message that says she will be dead in four days.


Vivian's bodyguard and surrogate mother has convinced her to go to Mexico to hide and wait until the four days are over. Vivian has never gone anywhere alone. She has always had her bodyguard, publicists, and others to meet her every need. But soon she finds herself on a bus in Mexico heading for a safe house.

Naturally, the first thing that happens is that her bag, passport, and money are stolen and she meets a handsome mysterious boy. Nick is first reluctant to help her because he sees her as rich and useless. However, the more time they spend together, the closer they become.

Vivian learns all sorts of things on her trip to Mexico. Most of all she learns that she is a competent and strong young woman.

Fans of intrepid heroines will enjoy this fast-paced story. 

Favorite Quote:

In my life, there's always been a Before and and After. In the Before, when I was an Oscar nominee for best actress, as one of the youngest stars in history, Mom and I wore matching heart necklaces to the ceremony. In the After, when I was voted Etv!'s Teen Actor of the Year, my mom was dead and my heart was broken.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss for review. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Memes: Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


This week I am spotlighting Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel. I got this eARC at Edelweiss for review. Here is the description of this June 3 release:
With the mystery and suspense of the Pretty Little Liars series, the Hollywood drama of Lauren Conrad's L.A. Candy, and the creepiness of Michelle Hodkin's The Unbecoming of Mara DyerVivian Divine Is Dead will thrill fans of emotionally charged, fast-paced, contemporary fiction.

Teen celebrity Vivian Divine has had a rough six months—her movie-star mother was murdered, and her boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend. Through it all, she's had to smile for the camera—this is the stuff the tabloids live for, after all.
When a death threat arrives with her fan mail, Vivian decides to run to Mexico, hoping to escape whoever it is who wants her dead. There, she finds an ally in the mysterious and charming Nick, but even he seems like he can't be trusted.As Vivian travels deeper into Mexico, she finds herself asking a horrifying question: If she can't hide from the paparazzi, what makes her think she can elude a madman?

Filled with surprising twists, poignant moments, and the snark of a Hollywood starlet suddenly on her own, Vivian Divine Is Dead brings a fresh new voice to contemporary fiction.

As New York Times bestselling author of the Beautiful Creatures series Kami Garcia says, Vivian Divine Is Dead is "a heartbreaking and magical story about love, second chances, and finding yourself."
Beginning:
My name is Vivian Divine. I have a secret. I know how I'm going to die.
Friday 56:
I don't remember much about the morning my mom was kidnapped, but I do remember that she wasn't wearing makeup. For a woman who'd been voted Hollywood's most beautiful woman three years running by Celebrity magazine, that's a big deal.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

ARC Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (June 3, 2014)

Description: Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.

Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

My Thoughts: This book was a close look at the grittier side of teenage life and life in a small town. Alice becomes the target of an ever-escalating series of rumors. She slept with two boys at one party. She caused the death of the star quarterback Brandon. She had an abortion. At least, that's what the rumors say.

We learn about Alice through four viewpoints.

Elaine is the queen bee of the junior class of the school. She is also jealous of Alice because her off-again, on-again boyfriend Brandon is interested in her. She is also jealous that Alice is more attractive than her and doesn't have a mother who is constantly taking her to Weight Watchers.

Kelsie is Alice's former best friend but Kelsie's desire to be part of the in-crowd and another secret she is keeping make it easy for her to turn on Alice.

Josh is the wide receiver to his best friend Brandon's quarterback. They spend their time drinking, hanging out, and chasing girls though Brandon definitely catches more. His guilt over his own part in the car accident that kills Brandon makes it easy for him to blame texts from Alice.

Kurt is the weirdo loner who has always loved Alice from afar. Sometimes Brandon would hang around with him. But his genius IQ and social awkwardness make him an observant outsider in the town. When everything falls apart for Alice, Kurt is the only one who pays attention to her.

We learn about Brandon through these four viewpoints too. And he doesn't come off as a particularly admirable character. He was a football star but he was also the kind of guy who will sleep with any girl who catches his eye and use his sports status to get out of any trouble.

The one viewpoint that we don't get until the end of the book is Alice's. I can't begin to imagine how it was for a girl who already has a neglectful mother and an absent father to deal with this sort of gossip and innuendo. She is a really strong person that I would have liked to get to know better.

Because the story is written from the first person in each of these viewpoints, it took me a while to get over the teen speak - the hyperbole, the conviction that the whole world revolves around them, the acknowledgement of fault without any indication of a need to change. Thoughtful readers will enjoy this glimpse into these kids' lives and will be thinking about the choices they made for a long time.

Favorite Quote:
We haven't had some blow up or some drama-filled fight or anything. Nothing like that. Just little by little, Alice Franklin was my best friend and then she was my friend and then she was sort of my friend and now I guess she isn't my friend at all.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

TBR Pile (May 28, 2014)

I have a confession to make. I have a massive TBR pile.

I'd like to blame it on blogging. After all, I see hundreds of lovely books each week as I visit from blog to blog. Or maybe I can blame it on my Amazon Prime account and the ease of the one-click button. I am faced with incredible temptation each time I go on my computer. ;-)

However, I have always had a massive TBR pile. Maybe not this massive but my eyes have always been bigger than my reading time. As of today, according to LibraryThing, I have 217 print books on my pile. Here is a look at the beauties that are waiting for me.
First Half

Second Half
Some of these books have been waiting for years. I began my LibraryThing account in February of 2008 and 8 of these were added to the stack then. Who knows how long I had them before I began the account. There are only three from 2009. 

I began to blog at the end of 2009. It was then that my stack began to get out of control. Since I have been getting books for review, I have had less time to read the books I buy. This year I seem to have finally recognized this as a problem and have, thus far in 2014, only added 24 books to the pile.

I'm not sure what kind of plan I should have. Would you read the oldest ones first? Would you read the ones you bought because everyone was talking about them? Would you read the ones that complete series? 

I'm going to have some time this summer to tackle this stack. What would you suggest I read first?

P.S. I go through these shelves at least twice a year and remove books I don't think I will ever get to either because I can't remember why I chose them in the first place or because my students have been asking for them. I donate them to my high school media center where I will still have access to them for at least the next couple of years.

PPS. Did I mention that I have a Kindle? Want to know how many YA books I have there?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
But honestly, if what Alice did (or maybe didn't do) had been held up as some great achievement by everyone at Healy High, I would have still hung out with her. If everyone still liked her, I would have liked her too.

I know I sound like the worst person on Earth. I'm totally owning that.
This week my teaser comes from The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description of this June 3 release:
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.

Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Monday, May 26, 2014

State of the Stack (May 26, 2014)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full. 

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit. 

My Review Pile

As listed below, I had quite a few additions to the pile this month. Here is what I have in order of their release dates.

Post-Release
I got this trilogy from Amazon via NetGalley in mid-April and hope to read it sometime in June.

The Garden of Stones by Mark T. Barnes (May 21, 2013)
The Obsidian Heart by Mark T. Barnes (Oct. 15, 2013)
The Pillars of Sand by Mark T. Barnes (May 20, 2014)

June
The Body in the Woods by April Henry (June 17)
The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor (June 24)

July
Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton (July 1)
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (July 1)
On the Fence by Kasie West (July 1)
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (July 8)
Wild by Alex Mallory (July 8)
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (July 15)
Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen (July 29)

August
Frostborn by Lou Anders (August 5)
Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre (August 5)
Memory Zero by Keri Arthur (August 26)
Feral by Holly Schindler (August 26)

September
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (Sept. 2)
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (Sept. 2)
Blackbird by Anna Carey (Sept. 9)
Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (Sept. 16)
The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 16)
Adrenaline Crash by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sept. 23)
Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (Sept. 23)
Firebug by Lish McBride (Sept. 23)
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (Sept. 23)

October
The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling (Oct. 1)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Oct. 7)
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Oct. 7)
Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Oct. 7)
Stray by Elissa Sussman (Oct. 7)
Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot (Oct. 14)
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Oct. 14)
Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Oct. 21)
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Oct. 21)
Get Happy by Mary Amato (Oct. 28)

November
The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield (Nov. 11)
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen (Nov. 25)

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris 
  2. Caged Warrior by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
  3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  4. Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
  5. The Summer Invitation by Charlotte Silver
  6. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
  7. Risky Game by Tracy Solheim
  8. Mila 2.0: Renegade by Debra Driza
  9. The Cursed by Heather Graham
  10. I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora
  11. The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross
  12. Blur by Steven James
  13. The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst (May 29)
  14. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (May 29)
  15. Honor's Queen by Rachel Bach (June 5)
  16. Take Me On by Katie McGarry
  17. Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel (May 31)
  18. Hexed by Michelle Krys (June 5)
  19. Fatal Affair by Marie Force (June 7)
  20. On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor (June 7)
  21. The Quick by Lauren Owen (June 12)
  22. Jessie Elliot Is a Big Chicken by Elise Gravel (June 4)
  23. Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dollamore (June 12)
  24. That Night by Chevy Stevens (June 14)
Read in April, Posted in May (or Later)
  1. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson (April 30)
  2. A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn (May 1)
  3. Royally Lost by Angie Stanton (May 1)
  4. Monument 14: Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne (May 3)
  5. The Falconer by Elizabeth May (May 3)
  6. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (July 5)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses.
  1. Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre (Aug. 5)
  2. That Night by Chevy Stevens (June 17)
  3. Fatal Affair by Marie Force (Feb. 25, 2014)
  4. Firebug by Lish McBride (Sept. 23)
  5. The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 16)
  6. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (Sept. 16)
  7. Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (Sept. 23)
  8. Stray by Elissa Sussman (Oct. 7)
  9. Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Oct. 7)
  10. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Oct. 14)
  11. Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot (Oct. 14)
  12. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Oct. 21)
  13. Get Happy by Mary Amato (Oct. 28)
  14. On the Edge by Allison van Diepen (Nov. 25)
  15. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Oct. 7)
  16. Blackbird by Anna Carey (Sept. 16)
  17. Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (Sept. 9)
  18. Don't Touch by Rachel Wilson (Sept. 2)
  19. Feral by Holly Schindler (Aug. 26)
  20. Memory Zero by Keri Arthur (Aug. 26)
  21. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (Sept. 23)
  22. Take Me On by Katie McGarry (May 27)
  23. Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sept. 23)
  24. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Oct. 7)
  25. Frostborn by Lou Anders (Aug. 5)
  26. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (July 8)
  27. The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield (Nov. 11)
  28. Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Oct. 21)
  29. Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton (July 1)
  30. Jessie Elliot Is a Big Chicken by Elisa Gravel (May 20)
Next Month's Plan

I have managed to get quite a few books ahead. I should finish all of my June review books by the end of May. I am eager to read some of the books on my TBR mountain that are not review books during my summer vacation when I try very hard to read a book a day. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (May 25, 2014)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

Bought
I got Odin's Ravens by K. L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr because I read the first book in the series and want to know more. This is the only print book I bought this week.

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan was a Kindle Daily Deal. I have the print book on my TBR mountain and will now be donating it to my HS Media Center. 
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols was another Kindle Daily Deal.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller was also an inexpensive ebook that I heard about on Twitter.

Review Books
Jessie Elliot Is a Big Chicken by Elise Gravel was a surprise in my mailbox this week. This middle grade graphic novel was a fun, quick read.
I was browsing NetGalley this week and couldn't resist Frostborn by Lou Anders and Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne. Both will be released this summer.

I got two more review books that don't have covers yet. I got The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield which is scheduled to be released on Nov. 11 and Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen which is an Oct. 21 release.

Free SYNC Audio Books
I downloaded Oedipus the King and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge from SYNC this week. I have already read Cruel Beauty but it will be fun to read it again with my ears.
I forgot to mention last week that I had downloaded the SYNC books. But I did get The Time Machine by H. G. Wells and The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

ARC Review: Blur by Steven James

Blur
Author: Steven James
Series: Blur Trilogy (Book 1)
Publication: Skyscape (May 27, 2014)

Description: The isolated town of Beldon, Wisconsin, is shocked when a high school freshman’s body is found in Lake Algonquin. Just like everyone in the community, sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers believes that Emily Jackson’s death was accidental. But at her funeral, when he has a terrifying vision of her, his world begins to rip apart at the seams.

Convinced that Emily’s appearance was more than just a mere hallucination, Daniel begins to look carefully into her death, even as he increasingly loses the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

What’s real? What’s not? Where does reality end and madness begin?

As Daniel struggles to find the truth, his world begins to crumble around him as he slips further and further into his own private blurred reality.

Full of mind-bending twists and turns, Blur launches a new trilogy of young adult thrillers from Steven James, a master of suspense.

My Thoughts: BLUR was a very suspenseful story filled with twists and turns. Daniel Byers is the school's star quarterback. The story begins when he is attending the funeral of a fellow student - Emily Jackson - who he really didn't know very well. Things go weird when he sees her sit up in her coffin, grab his arm, and say his name. Then he faints.

Daniel doesn't know what is going on. He is afraid that he is losing his mind. He sees her again walking onto the field at the Homecoming football game. Next thing he knows he is coming to after taking a major hit from the other team. I could feel Daniel's confusion and fear as he tried to figure out what was going on.

Despite his dad the sheriff's advice, he can't stop investigating Emily's death. Evidence leads to lots of suspects including his best friend Kyle and a teacher at school. He gets some help from a girl named Stacy that no one else seems to know and from his friend Nicole.

I will admit that I had chosen the wrong suspect as I was reading the book. And I wasn't at all sure that Daniel wasn't really losing his mind. This was an engaging thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Favorite Quote:
The idea that death is the end, theh end of every dream and memory that a person will ever have, every hope and smile and tear...it was unsettling.

Teenagers weren't supposed to have to think about things like that.
I got this eARC at NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Memes: Blur by Steven James

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting Blur by Steven James. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description of this May 27 release.
The isolated town of Beldon, Wisconsin, is shocked when a high school freshman’s body is found in Lake Algonquin. Just like everyone in the community, sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers believes that Emily Jackson’s death was accidental. But at her funeral, when he has a terrifying vision of her, his world begins to rip apart at the seams.

Convinced that Emily’s appearance was more than just a mere hallucination, Daniel begins to look carefully into her death, even as he increasingly loses the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

What’s real? What’s not? Where does reality end and madness begin?

As Daniel struggles to find the truth, his world begins to crumble around him as he slips further and further into his own private blurred reality.

Full of mind-bending twists and turns, Blur launches a new trilogy of young adult thrillers from Steven James, a master of suspense.
Beginning:
Daniel held the blanket so that it hung vertically above the bed. Stacy stood beside his desk, her back to the wall. He noticed she was tapping her fingers nervously against her leg.
Friday 56:
The rest of the morning went pretty much like normal. For the most part everyone left the topic of Emily alone, but there were occasional hushed conversations about it, a few tears here and there.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

ARC Review: I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

I Kill the Mockingbird
Author: Paul Acampora
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (May 20, 2014)

Description: When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books.

My Thoughts: There is nothing I like more than a well-written book about devoted readers. Lucy, Elena and Michael are in the summer before ninth grade. They are looking at their summer reading lists and finding that they have already ready most of them. They are also remembering their former English teacher who died of a heart attack at school. They know that he would only have assigned TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD for summer reading.

Despite having different feelings about MOCKINGBIRD, they come up with a plan to encourage people to read it by making it scarce. They start a website called IKilltheMockingbird.com and begin hiding copies of the book in bookstores and libraries. Through the power of social media, their campaign goes viral. It quickly gets to be much larger than they had anticipated.

Besides their Mockingbird campaign, other things are happening this summer too. Lucy and Michael are making the first move toward being more than friends and beginning to date. Lucy is also dealing with her mother's recovery from cancer. She had been so afraid of losing her that, now that she is cured, she is unsure that she can accept that her mother is all right.

I loved the friendships between the three kids. I also loved that the adults in the book were loving, supportive, and present in their children's lives. I loved the relationship Elena's Uncle Mort has with the kids as they make his used bookstore their clubhouse. I also really liked the relationship that Lucy has with both her parents.

This story is filled with quotable passages about life, friendship and literature. I thought it was an excellent story.

Favorite Quote:
"Are you going to die or not?" I ask my mother.

Mom points to the gravesites all around us. "We all die, Lucy. Me. You. Everybody. But you know what we do first?"

I shake my head.

"We pretend that it's not going to happen. We make believe that we're never going to die. Do you know what that's called?"

"Lying?" I say.

"Living, Lucy. It's called living. That's what I'm going to do now. So please stop tip-toeing around the house because you're afraid the loud noises might disturb me. Please stop giving me carrots and granola and organic skim milk. Please stop looking at me like I might fall and break into a million pieces any minute. It's depressing."
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ARC Review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits (Book 5)
Publication: Harlequin Teen (May 27, 2014)

Description: Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her--fighting for her--is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault his family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.

Haley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

My Thoughts: Katie McGarry has written another intense coming of age story in TAKE ME ON.

Haley Williams's life has imploded. Her father lost his job, their house was foreclosed on, and, after spending a short time in a homeless shelter, her family is now living with her father's brother and his family. Haley's uncle is one of those verbally abusive types who also delights in setting arbitrary and inconsistent rules. Haley is constantly fighting herself to keep from defying him which could lead to her family being homeless again. In addition, Haley is dealing with an abusive ex-boyfriend who is a MMA fighter and who is threatening her brother and cousin. Haley used to be a nationally ranked kickboxer but her boyfriend's abuse has ruined her confidence in herself and her love for the sport of kickboxing.

West Young isn't having a very good year either. His feels massive guilt for the car accident that injured his sister Rachel. He is also constantly at odds with his father. West is the impulsive act first, think later type of guy. He is also the pot smoking, party boy kind of guy. His good looks and wealthy background make him a chick magnet and he doesn't turn them away. He is also a fighter who is quick to defend any insult with his fists. He has currently been expelled from his private school for fighting.

Haley and West meet when Haley is being attacked by her boyfriend's drug using younger brother. West fights but it is Haley who saves them both. Of course, that makes both West and Haley a target for the ex-boyfriend. Haley agrees to train West so that he can fight with the ex despite her fear of having anything to do with the fighting world again.

Despite Haley's determination not to get involved with another fighter, West works his way into her heart. And, for West, Haley's courage makes him fall for her too. A common theme is McGarry's books is that love heals, love strengthens, and love empowers. Life situations may still be awful but love gives the strength to get through them.

I enjoyed this story very much. I liked the chance to revisit some favorite characters from earlier stories especially Abby who really needs a book of her own.

Favorite Quote:
I lean so that our foreheads almost touch. "I mean it. I'm lots of things, but I'm not him."

"I know," she whispers. "But it doesn't make falling any less frightening."

My nose drifts along hers and the pull I've been fighting strengthens. "Don't think of it as falling. Think of it as jumping—with me."

I feel the curve of her smile beneath my lips/

"How is jumping better?"

"Falling happens. Jumping you choose." And you chose to do it with me.
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.